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Notice the Fireflies.

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I recently began as a volunteer with my local hospice organization. Persons that are referred for hospice services are presumed to have six months or less to live. Hospice services assist with their medical needs, social work needs, or provide companionship and emotional support. My interest in becoming involved with hospice is my own interest in death, dying, and assisting those that are close to death in making their transition. I will be a guardian angel for them, sitting vigil in the last few hours and days of breath. It is not a career, as much as it is an inspired calling for me right now. 

 

With the training that I received this week, and meeting the first person that I have been paired with, I feel completely at ease being where I am. And, I find myself being even more acutely aware of the present moment, and the importance of that. You see, the present moment is all that we ever have, even though it feels like our lives are based on past and future the majority of the time. The truth is, the past is merely a memory trace, and the future is just an anticipated outcome, that may or may not come to be.  Yet, that is often how we define ourselves and establish our identity in the world. 

 

For persons that are dying, especially those that are actively dying at a relatively young age, there is no more planning for far into the future; the reality is, that they have fewer breaths remaining than they had planned on or hoped for. So, presence of what is in their now, and appreciating everything that they have in their lives becomes of more critical importance. However, it is a reminder that could serve all of us in a meaningful way. 

 

I read, listen to, and remind myself daily of the importance of present moment awareness, in accepting things as they are, and choosing peace over conflict, judgment, regret or anticipation. It takes daily reminding for me to remember the importance of it, believe me. Yet, I am amazed at the details that I get to immerse myself in when I pause long enough from my agenda ridden life, and pay attention to what is happening right now.  

 

Gift yourself with the celebration of the present moment. Enjoy the symphony of birds in the morning as you awaken. Watch the puffy, changing clouds from your car on your drive to work. Breathe deeply in between the bites of your meal. And, don’t forget to notice the fireflies that glow with such mystery in your backyard. The moments deserve our full attention. 

 

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Hurricane.

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Ever since I was a child, I remember being fascinated by the weather. I would do projects in grade school that focused on weather maps and weather patterns. I would get scared and intrigued by the way that Mother Nature could be calm and beautiful one minute, and mighty and destructive the next. I had fears of high wind, mainly tornadoes, and although I didn’t live in an area of the country where such incidents were common, I was scared, just the same. Same with hurricanes; not common, but the intensity of them would stir up fear in me.

 

One of the most fascinating things to me about a hurricane is the eye of the storm. On the outer perimeter, a hurricane is fierce, in wind, rain and destruction. Hurricanes change communities sometimes forever, by the intensity of them and the impact of that intensity. Yet, in the center of it all, there is a calm, peaceful spot where none of that turmoil is seen. It is really amazing.

 

This morning, I started thinking about storms such as hurricanes, but not in terms of an upcoming weather pattern. I was thinking about the hurricanes of times that I encounter in my life. I feel grateful that I don’t experience upheaval or destruction in my world very often. My life feels very grounded, peaceful, and going in the direction that I really most want to go. Yet, I have times when it feels like life and circumstances are swirling around me. I feel overwhelmed, tired, frustrated, hopeless, and small. I feel like the wind is blowing and the rains are falling, and I am without shelter or reprieve.

 

The most helpful thing for me in those times, is to remember my own, internal, eye of the storm. I have within me, as all of us do, a peaceful center. A core essence of being that is always available to me. ALWAYS and in ALL WAYS. It is my peace; my soul; my true nature. When I am swept up in the currents of storms that may be occurring outside of myself, I at times forget that the eye is always at my disposal. However, when I do remember this, which I always do, it is a great sigh of relief to come back to that center. To breathe deeply, consciously and presently. To remember that no matter what is happening outside of me, I can always rely on what lives in me.

 

Even though it feels simple and small, that eye of peace is strong and powerful. It creates for me, or brings me back to, that sense of knowing, of having my feet firmly planted. No wind or force can uproot me when I am coming from that place of pure peace, pure knowing. I am so grateful, each and every day, that I understand and know what really exists in me. So that I can call upon it whenever I most want or need to do so.  It is nothing short of a blessing.

 

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My Humanness.

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I went out last night with my wife, first for dinner, and then out to listen to some music. I always look forward to our evenings out together,  because we are spending some time as a couple; because I like visiting some of our favorite local businesses, and because I enjoy seeing people that I know. At those times, I feel social and available to others around me, and my environment. It feels freeing and peaceful, and I am present with how in touch with my own self and feel good about it.

 

We began the evening with dinner at our favorite restaurant in the city. We don’t go out to eat very often, but we enjoy this restaurant no matter what our other choices are. The food, atmosphere, and heart in the business draw us there, and it is warm, welcoming and delicious. I always see people that I know, including the owners, and even strangers feel known to me. I feel at home.

 

When we got to the second venue, to see some friends of ours who recently formed a new band perform, I knew right away that it felt different than where we had just been. Something inside of me didn’t feel like myself anymore. I felt like I didn’t want to be seen; that I was too old, not cool enough. And that even if there were people there that were familiar to me, I didn’t care to have them converse with me, ask about me. I wanted to go into a corner of the room, drink my drink and just listen to the music.  

 

Now keep in mind that for two years now, I stand on the street and give hugs to complete strangers to me. And it feels connected, true and warm when I am hugging those people. Like I am connecting with them on a level beyond words, beyond form. It feels deep and true, both what I offer and what I receive. So, to feel uncomfortable in a room with many people, some of whom I knew or could get to know, I felt closed, not connected at all. 

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This morning, when I was sitting quietly, I found the space in me that feels like an open wound. A wound that has been around for years, some years more intensely than others, and is my own tendency toward self loathing and attack. That not wanting to be with other people in an open way, had nothing to do with them, but myself. It feels raw and vulnerable to see the ways in which I want to attack myself for not being enough. When I start to feel really good and sure of myself, Ego is never far away, reminding me of the voice that exists that is self deprecating and attacking. It is always there, wanting to undermine me in some way, undermine who I know myself to really be. 

 

With deep gratitude this morning, I say a hearty Thank You for the awareness that catches this in myself. And remembers what the real truth is. The truth is that I am complex and made up of many parts and aspects, in my human form. I have been domesticated in many ways in my life, about many things, and only now in my life do I have the eyes to understand that none of what I was taught is true. That the truth is that I am perfect; I am Light; and to Love myself is blessed. And that I am a part of All and can embrace that fully, but only by honoring and loving myself deeply first.

 

It can be daunting some days to love myself. Yet, I will continue to remind myself every day of how beautiful that is, and how opening myself fully shines my Light more brightly into the world. It reminds me that I am not alone, ever.

Fearing but Craving Connection

 

The House of Ruth.

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Dear Ruthie:

Today, I miss you so much. I am thinking of so many things that I long for about you; and the parts that I love in you the most.  So many things. So many beautiful, warm memories. 

I miss your laugh. When you would laugh really hard, you would close your eyes, throw your head back just a bit, and open your mouth up. It was a soft, hearty laugh and it always made me smile.

I miss your voice. Your voice, the way that I would hear it, would be soft in its volume and tone, yet firm in its intention. I always knew us to be honest with one another, which has been a great blessing to me in my life. 

I miss our talks, for hours and hours when I would visit you. Sometimes, I would be going through something really big in my life, and you would listen to me talk on the porch, or at the dining room table. Other times, you would tell me your thoughts about life, and things going on with me, and celebrate with me the joys in my world. You always understood me, and stood for me. I will never forget that.

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I miss your generosity. You would send off a surprise card, a present, a thought of me whenever it struck you. And, it would always be an unexpected joy that never stopped delighting me. The turtle lamp that you gave to Brenda and I lights up our room each night. I think of you always when looking at that.

I miss our Dunkin’ Donuts runs when I would visit you. For you, DD was such a special treat, and you would treat whoever was with you as well, to the fare of their choice. Pumpkin spice coffee, with two sugars and cream, and a breakfast sandwich of one sort or another, with hash browns. I had a cup of DD pumpkin spice coffee yesterday and thought of you the whole time.

I miss your hands. Your hands were always so beautiful to me. They looked so soft, and pure, and untouched, yet they were strong and capable. I loved holding your hands in mine no matter what the circumstance or occasion. They felt like home to me.

I miss being in your house with you, in the morning quiet before you would get up, in the evening while we would talk or you would watch baseball, during the day as you would take Josh out for yard time. I miss every little and and big thing about you. Some days, it really hits me that you have died and I can’t be in your arms again. Not now, anyway. I cry a bit, I think of you as I look at your picture, and then, it passes by and I feel at peace once more. No matter how close the pain feels, you have changed my life in such a way that I will never forget it. 

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I love you. xo  Nessa 

The Pantry.

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My Aunt Ruth’s death almost three months ago has stirred up in me many different emotions. I have deep gratitude for her presence in my life, my entire life. I am also grateful to have her beloved cat, Josh, in our home with us. I feel deep sadness, on and off, when I realize that I will never see her again, in this world. I will never look into her eyes or hold her hands. I feel deep peace when I sense her presence around me, when I talk to her in my car or feel her hand on my shoulder. 

 

Even though I rarely feel regret about aspects of my life, my way of focusing on the past is through longing. It is very common for me to feel a sense of longing about an aspect of past. Either longing for the way things used to be with someone in my life; longing for looking the same as I may have years ago; or longing for a place that brings deep feelings of love and connection for me. One longing that I have deeply in me is for my Aunt Ruth’s house.

 

When I was a very young child, the house that became my Aunt Ruth’s homestead was the home of my grandparents, my father’s mom and dad. My Nana and Grampa. I loved going to their house when I was a kid, to see them, and to spend time there. My Aunt Ruth lived with them throughout their lives, and when they both died, she continued to live there, until her death. It is the house and home that was the constant for me as I was growing up. There were homes that I lived in with my parents that felt special to me, but Ruth’s house was the deepest representation of home that I have ever experienced.  When I would visit there, I would enjoy spending time in various parts of the house. There are short stories living inside of me for each nook and cranny. One of those rooms was the pantry.

 

I had never been in another house, that I remember, that had a pantry. I thought it was so cool, that there was a little room right off of the kitchen, where so many different types of objects were kept:  food; pots and pans; tools; spices. There was plenty of storage space in there, but just enough room for one person to stand in there, turn around a couple of times in a circle depending on what you were looking for. For two people, you couldn’t move around much.

 

When I was very young, around 8 or 9 years old, and I would spend weekends and holiday vacations there, I would love to go in there and look around at everything on the shelves. I liked to look at the variety of spices, and medicines that were there. There was always a pair of scissors hanging by a hook. Coffee mugs that were the favorites of various persons in the house. Cookie jar that almost always had Oreos in it. And, so many other objects that I always remember being there. And, there was a big metal step stool, that had a seat at the top of it, and extra steps that unfolded out of the bottom. That would fit just under the counter top in the pantry. I remember my Nana, who was diabetic, going in there to inject her own insulin. I would often be in there with her, as she pulled out the stool, sat down, pulled up her dress and injected herself in the leg. It fascinated me that it didn’t seem to hurt her at all.

 

When my son and I went to Ruth’s house one last time a couple of weeks ago, I woke up early the morning that we were leaving, unable to sleep. I knew that I most likely, would never be in that house again. I felt a strong longing for time to be turned back, just to have one more day, one more weekend in that house. I walked into the pantry, touching objects, taking some with me, and feeling a deep sense of loss and grief. That room, the memories in it for me seemed almost palpable. They were lingering in the air. I tried to imagine other objects on these shelves, and that seemed impossible to comprehend. This is the only way that it should ever be, like in a museum.  

 

I feel so grateful today for the time that I got to have my Aunt Ruth in my world, and to be in a home that will never leave my heart and mind. And, even with longing, the bigger part of my memories is a deep feeling of love, connection, and peace. The pantry and all parts of that house will always live in me.11202856_1606994312902212_7038100225790313098_n